Denver City and County Building

Denver City and County Building.

The Denver City Council should take note that no other states have passed carbon tax bills when considering a newly proposed bill for Denver, Americans for Tax Reform said in a release.

"Carbon tax legislation has been introduced in more than a dozen states, but not one of them, not even the bluest and most left-leaning state legislature, has seen fit to pass a carbon tax," the organization's vice president of state affairs, Patrick Gleason, said in the release.

Denver's proposed bill, which would ask voters to approve a "pollution tax" on electricity at a rate of 0.6 cents per kilowatt, as well as tax natural gas usage at a rate of  1.5-3 cents per therm, was approved to head to City Council on Tuesday.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, as well as some City Council members, have expressed criticism about the speedy procession of the bill.

“I cannot stress enough the importance of engaging all segments of our community in this conversation, including low-income families, small businesses and those who may shoulder the burden of additional costs,” Hancock wrote in a letter to city council Tuesday.

The tax reform group agrees with this analysis.

"Mayor Hancock is smart to be thinking about how the proposed carbon tax would affect low-income families," Gleason wrote. "The fact is that the proposed carbon tax would disproportionately harm low-income households who would see a greater share of their income consumed by the tax. The carbon tax would also reduce the job-creating capacity of Denver-based businesses."

Americans for Tax Reform compiled a timeline of similar bills and noted that carbon taxes have been rejected by voters in Maine, Massachusetts and Washington.

"Denver may soon add itself to the ranks of places where efforts to institute a carbon tax have fallen flat; or it may become a rare victory for carbon tax proponents," Gleason wrote. "Time will tell." 

Despite the lack of success so far, City Council members are weighing the positive environmental impact the bill could have.

“This is the first step in doing our part as a city to be all-in on the Paris climate accord so that we can save our planet,” said Denver City Council President Jolon Clark.

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